As we prepare for winter amid these overwhelming times, great opportunity and responsibility exist for maintaining our health and strength. Relying on our abilities and resources has become vital as our societal systems sustain prolonged, multi-faceted stress. One way to move forward with health-focused lifestyle changes is to grow food indoors for whole-being inspiration. Considering combined nutritional value, cost, and required effort and maintenance, one method outshines them all—sprouting! By harnessing the ancient practice of sprouting seeds, we can reap the benefits of eating live food while it’s too cold for plants to grow outside.
Through the sprouting process, water and electricity awaken and enliven stored enzymes, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and antioxidants. Eating sprouts is like eating every part of an entire plant at a very young age. It’s as simple as soaking, draining, rinsing, and storing. Given the convenience of such a power-packed food, sprouting is a historically popular form of ancient agriculture.
The advantages of eating sprouts are vast. Being easily digestible, the bioavailability of sprouts provides a synergy of nutrients with gut flora. This makes them a notable source of energy and protein. The sprouting process also inhibits certain anti-nutrients found in many grains and nuts. Enjoying your crop as raw as possible provides the most benefit, as heat can damage nutrients. It’s also wise to introduce sprouts in small quantities, as some bellies may be sensitive to this live, concentrated food.
In addition to being a superior food, studies have shown that sprouts particularly benefit the brain, heart, lungs, organs, and bones, as well as help with cancer prevention and lowering cholesterol. They also regulate blood sugar and are therefore ideal for those with diabetes and inflammatory issues. You can access these benefits by incorporating sprouts long-term into your diet. Furthermore, not all sprouts are created equal. Specific plants provide particular health advantages. Sproutpeople.org is a great resource for research.
An abundance of information and options exist in the simple world of sprouting.
A cornucopia of seeds can be used, including all edible grains, seeds, and legumes. From a simple mason jar or hemp bag to self-draining, variable ventilation, stacking sprouters, a range of growing mediums are available. Sproutpeople.org is a complete sprouting info and resource website, providing all one needs to know about sprouting while streamlining the process of purchasing quality seeds and growing mediums.
Dry seeds can remain viable for one to five or more years, making them ideal for stocking up and storing. Dormant seeds should be stored in a cool, dry, dark place. You can freeze them for increased shelf life; just be careful to avoid freezer-burn. Since refrigerators are humid, they are not ideal for dry seed storage. However, once the seeds have been sprouted, rinsed, dried completely (towels or a salad spinner are helpful), and stored in air-tight containers, they’ll stay fresh and bacteria-free in your refrigerator for weeks.
With a fresh crop of sprouts, occasions to experiment with flavors, textures, and consistencies are infinite! From spicy to sweet, big fava beans to small sesame seeds, recipes are limited by only your creativity level. They can be added to salads—but not just spinach and lettuce ones. Sprouts spice up anything from tabouli to potato salad. Being the most bio-available and nutrient-dense protein for the cost, sprouts are a sustainable meat alternative. Sandwiches, soup, hummus, salsa, pizza—they can even be dried and ground to make bread flour. Sprouts are a natural, nourishing way to support us when we need it most.
It can be challenging to remain happy and healthy throughout our long U.P. winters. We can grow these fun, teeny kitchen gardens to satisfy our minds and bodies with a living harvest during our darkest months. Making sprouts a regular part of one’s diet can provide extra energy, vitamin C, and weight loss—something many particularly appreciate this season. Plus, these baby plants can delight us with their sweet spark of new life in our indoor winter world.
Crystal Cooper has called Marquette home for over a decade and is passionate about natural healing modalities as well as personal and global sustainability. Crystal advocates resiliency-promoting actions within the community in the face of our changing climate.Crystal.firstname.lastname@example.org.
Excerpted with permission from the Winter 2020-2021 issue of Health & Happiness U.P. Magazine. Copyright 2020, Empowering Lightworks, LLC. All rights reserved.